Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday passed a decision in favour of allocating 100 million shekels ($25.8 million) towards investment in settlement activities in the vicinity of Al-Buraq Wall (also known as the Western Wall).
During his weekly meeting with his cabinet Netanyahu said that during the last five years there has been a large increase in the numbers of visitors to Al-Buraq Wall, claiming that “the Western Wall belongs to all the people of Israel” and that the decision taken today “reflects our commitment together; my commitment as a son of Jerusalem, and the commitment of ministers to continue with the construction activities in Jerusalem.”
Only yesterday, Netanyahu appointed Zeev Elkin, a Likud member of the Knesset who is known to be close to the prime minister, as minister for Jerusalem affairs.
Netanyahu repeated the statement he made last week about the intention of his new government to continue the construction work in the settlements in East Jerusalem, despite international demands to halt settlement activity, declaring “a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
Israeli Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Maghribi door at Al-Buraq Wall almost daily. Extremist Jewish NGOs, rabbis and sometimes state officials have repeatedly called on settlers to storm the mosque and urged security officials to protect them.
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the resistance movement’s success in forcing Israeli forces out of Lebanon’s soil 15 years ago was a victory for all Lebanese and Muslims.
Nasrallah made the remarks in the southern town of Nabatiyeh on Sunday during a televised speech celebrating the anniversary of the Israeli forces’ withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
He paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to bring victory to the resistance movement.
The Hezbollah chief added that if the the resistance movement had not risen against the Tel Aviv regime Israel would have occupied Lebanon.
Hezbollah forced the Israeli military out of the southern parts of Lebanon on May 25, 2000, after more than two decades of occupation.
People in Lebanon consider May 25 as a beginning of dramatic change in the region.
The Lebanese commemorate the day as a national holiday and see it as a transformation that changed the regional equations for good, and put an end to the invincibility myth of the Israeli military.
Nasrallah said after the Israeli regime attacked Lebanon, some groups in Lebanon hesitated to stand against the Zionist regime and even communicated with “the Israelis and considered them allies and friends.”
But, he added, some other Lebanese “did not wait for the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, the UN, the US or the West. They rather relied on their capabilities, men, heroes and friends in Iran and Syria, and the resistance was launched.”
“This victory was achieved by some of the Lebanese who believed in resistance,” said Nasrallah.
“From the very first day, the resistance believed that it was defending all Lebanese,” he said, adding that “backstabbing and treason did not prevent it from dedicating its victory to all of Lebanon, the Arabs and the world.”
Nasrallah called on the international community and especially on the Lebanese authorities to step up fight against ISIL Takfiri group which is threatening mankind.
Nasrallah said “history is repeating itself” and a scheme spearheaded by ISIL Takfiri group is threatening the Middle East region.
“We are before a danger that is unparalleled in history,” Nasrallah said referring to ISIL terrorist group, adding, “We must understand the threat.”
Nasrallah stressed that all people in the region are facing the threat of the terrorist group, adding, “We are before a threat that does not tolerate the existence of others. All people in the region are facing this barbarous situation.”
The Hezbollah chief stated that remaining silent against the Takfiri threat would be unproductive, adding, “Those who believe that their silence would protect them and their sect are delusional. It is unacceptable to wait and we must take the initiative” against the Takfiri threat.
Nasrallah stressed that those refusing to counter the terrorist group will suffer a lot.
He said the US-led coalition allegedly fighting the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria has not been instrumental in putting an end to the brutalities of the Takfiri group.
“What has the US-led coalition done? The number of their airstrikes throughout a year is much less than the number of Israel’s raids on Lebanon in the  July war or its raids on Gaza,” Nasrallah added.
He urged the Christians in Lebanon to fight the Takfiri group, asking, “Who will protect your women from enslavement and your churches from destruction?”
“We call on everyone in Lebanon and the region to shoulder their responsibilities in the face of the threat and to end their silence and neutrality,” he said, adding, “We call on you to defend your land, sovereignty and people.”
Nasrallah noted that people in the Lebanese city of Arsal are feeling the threat of the Takfiri group every day, calling on the Lebanese government to take action to save the people.
“We are ready to stand by Arsal’s people, but the state must shoulder its responsibility,” he said.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah fighters are present in Syria combating against terrorists, saying, “We are fighting alongside the Syrian army and popular resistance based on our vision that fighting there is aimed at defending everyone in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.”
He also called on Saudi Arbia, which has been pounding Yemen since March 26, to stop bombarding the impoverished Arab country.
The Israeli Authorities have decided to confiscate around 820 Dunams (202 acres) of privately owned Palestinian lands to establish new dumping grounds for its illegal colonies, in the central West Bank, in the Ramallah district.
The dump, according to the Israeli authorities, “would serve the settlements and the Palestinians in the area,” but would be run completely by Israel and Palestinians would have no access to it.
If the Israeli government manages to take control of the 820 Palestinian Dunams, the total impacted area from the new dumping grounds would be around 2,000 Dunams, which would be contaminated by runoff and debris.
These lands contain fertile soil and farmland, in addition to many water wells, Palestine TV has reported.
The residents plant their lands with various crops, mainly wheat, and use parts of this land as grazing grounds for their livestock. Some of the land is slated for development as residential areas, but this would be impossible once Israel takes control of the land and turns it into a dump.
Local villagers told Palestine TV that Israel is trying to push them out of the area to turn their land into a dump – many of these villagers have already lost land in past seizures by the Israeli military for the construction of illegal colonies.
HEBRON – A Swedish-owned church compound between Bethlehem and Hebron has not been sold to settlers contrary to media reports on Friday, the church’s lawyer told Ma’an on Saturday.
Israeli news source Haaretz reported Friday that right-wing Israeli Aryeh King had purchased the abandoned church compound from the church’s owners three years ago in order to build a settlement outpost.
However, local sources refuted the report, saying that such a sale had not been made and that the current owners are in fact carrying out refurbishments to turn the compound into a hostel.
“The church owns the compound, and is fixing up the existing building to serve as a hostel for Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are passing through,” the church’s Swedish lawyer Ari Souko told Ma’an.
The lawyer also reportedly told Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman of a local popular committee in nearby village Beit Ummar, that the church “has not been sold to settlers,” and that the Haaretz report was “far from the truth.”
Awad told Ma’an that the compound had been built decades after the owners bought 35 dunams (9 acres) of land from Beit Ummar resident Abd al-Latif Jabir Ikhlayyil.
The building then served as a hospital offering free medical treatment to local residents. The hospital continued to operate until the early 1980s but closed due to financial difficulties. Since then the building has been deserted, Awad said.
While Haaretz reported Friday that Aryeh King had recently started to refurbish it ahead of establishing a new settlement outpost in the area, Souko told Ma’an that such refurbishments were being carried out and funded by the church for the planned hostel.
Although the church remains in Swedish hands, the Haaretz report reflects a current trend in Israeli settlement practices, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem.
Aryeh King is founder and director of Israel Land Fund, an organization that buys Palestinian property and homes for resale to Jews with the aim of ‘Judaizing’ occupied East Jerusalem as well as Palestinian neighborhoods in Israel.
The church lies in a sensitive location, which if settled, would see Israeli settlements stretch all the way from the Gush Etzion settler bloc south of Jerusalem to the cluster of settlements around Hebron.
Currently Karmei Tzur is the only large settlement between the two.
Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem face ongoing threat of being pushed out by groups such as Israel Land Fund.
While Israeli government policies make it nearly impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain building permits, Jewish residents frequently take over Palestinian buildings with the protection of Israeli security.
Israel’s newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely yesterday told ministry employees that all of the land of Israel belongs to Jews only.
Israeli media quoted Hotovely as saying that Israeli diplomats around the world need to begin acting according to the principle of “being right and not just smart”.
Hotovely, 36, who served as deputy transport minister in the previous government said: “Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasising the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically.”
“But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right,” she added.
She went on quoting late settler leader, Uri Elitzur, saying for “the last 40 years, while the Palestinians were demanding their lands, Israel responded that ‘we have strategic interests and security concerns’.” According to her, those arguments are the arguments of a robber.
“If I wear your coat because I’m cold, and I can prove pragmatically and analytically that it really is cold for me, the world will ask a primitive and analytic question: Who does the coat belong to? In this context, it is important to say that this coat is ours; this country is ours, all of it. We didn’t come here to apologise for that,” she said.
Hotovely claimed that the world understands Israel’s security needs, but arguments based on justice and morality always trump those dealing with security concerns.
“If the Jews were convinced in the righteousness of their path, and that is their land, they would manage with the world,” she said.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said several diplomats and ministry employees disapproved of Hotovely’s remarks.
Senior UN officials have urged the Israeli government to “halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins” in the central West Bank.
In a joint press release Wednesday, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, and the Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, expressed their “grave concern” about the proposed expulsions.
According to Rawley, “Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities.”
46 Palestinian Bedouin communities – some 7,000 people – are slated for transfer to three proposed “relocation” sites. In March, the UN Secretary-General expressed concern that the plans “may also be connected with settlement expansion”, and noted that “forcible transfer” is “a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The UN agencies contextualise the threatened expulsions with a “backdrop of a discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction.”
Sanchez warned that “we are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage.”
As occupying power, Israel is obligated to ensure the wellbeing of these communities and to respect international law. I strongly urge the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.
A high-profile group of former European political leaders and diplomats has called for the urgent reassessment of EU policy on the question of a Palestinian state and insisted Israel must be held to account for its actions in the occupied territories.
In a letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the group, known as the European Eminent Persons Group, also questioned the ability of the US to lead the negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
In a damning assessment of EU policy, the letter reads: “Europe has yet to find an effective way of holding Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation. It is time now to demonstrate to both parties how seriously European public opinion takes contraventions of international law, the perpetration of atrocities and the denial of established rights.”
Signatories to the letter include Hubert Védrine and Roland Dumas, former foreign ministers of France, Andreas van Agt, former prime minister of the Netherlands, John Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland, Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France, Javier Solana, former Nato secretary general and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK ambassador to the UN.
On Friday, the European United Left group of MEPs demanded an abolition of partnership agreements with Israeldemanded an abolition of partnership agreements with Israel.
In recent months activists on the ground have witnessed an escalation of violence directed at Palestinians. There is an urgent need for international volunteers to support grassroots, non-violent Palestinian popular resistance to the Israeli Occupation.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched, systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using the principles and methods of non-violent, direct-action. ISM works where internationals can be most effective; we walk in solidarity with Palestinians in demonstrations, we respond to the violence, threats, house demolitions and land confiscation by the Israeli military and settlers.
The threat of demolition orders means that we have presence in places such as Jerusalem, Hebron and the Jordan Valley. We respond to violations of human rights by supporting Palestinian political prisoners. This includes bearing witness in Israeli military courts, campaigning and supporting families with loved ones imprisoned. In Hebron we walk with children who face violence and intimidation on their way to school. In the South Hebron Hills we assist farmers and shepherds who are harassed by settlers and occupation forces whilst trying to work on their own land. In the Jordan Valley we work with locals to build where the Israeli military destroys, in order that communities can resist by staying put. In Gaza we accompany farmers and fishermen into the buffer zones where they risk massive violence from the Israeli military. ISM constantly documents and reports on the daily violations of human rights committed by the state of Israel. ISM works to stop Israels’ crimes from going unreported.
You can be a part of this. ISM is Palestinian led, but has no leaders, and we have supported Palestinians in their struggle against the Occupation since 2001. To us, solidarity means that we are a tool for Palestinians to use in their popular resistance. We recognise that as internationals working under Israeli apartheid our position is privileged. We have rights that are denied to Palestinians. When we are arrested we are taken to a police station and have the right to a lawyer. When Palestinians are arrested they are taken to military bases where they face indefinite detention without a lawyer or fair trial. ISM uses the privileges of internationals to support Palestinian popular resistance. We believe that our presence as internationals supporting Palestinian led actions can afford some protection from some of the worst excesses of Israel’s violence.
For more information about our work and for up to date information about the situation in Occupied Palestine, visit palsolidarity.org
If you are planning to volunteer with ISM please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has approved funding for Israel’s missile systems and an amendment authorizing research and development of an anti-tunneling system.
The committee allocated $474 million for the Iron Dome short-range missile system, the David’s Sling medium-range system and the Arrow program. The bills are now awaiting approval from the US Senate.
The $267.6 million funds for research on the anti-tunneling system show Washington and Tel Aviv’s concern about the underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are used by the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas to bring in vital goods and other necessities for the people living under Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.
On April 30, the UN urged Israel to end its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has urged the US Congress to approve the funds.
“AIPAC urges the full House and Senate to include these vital funds in the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2016 defense authorization and appropriations bills,” AIPAC said in a statement.
The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually.
Forty years after the Vietnam phase of our eternal war ended we might want to go back another 30 years, to Saigon in September of 1945 when it all really began. What follows is from the diary of a war correspondent in French Indochina named Germaine Krull. The full diary ends with these words:
The Annamites [Vietnamese] will win their independence because they are ready to die for it … It may be too late already. We may never regain face, but if we do, it won’t be with the assistance of machine guns.
Mme Krull saw the future way back then, but the new American president didn’t. President Roosevelt had wanted to see the French colonies freed. Ho Chi Minh had even worked for the OSS during the war, and sought our friendship as it ended. But Harry Truman saw France as an ally in the struggle against communism, and so he chose the machine guns. Millions upon millions of people have paid the price ever since, as our insane eternal wars roll on.
I’m posting below the last few pages of Mme Krull’s fascinating accounts of Saigon in September of 1945. The full text is available here as a PDF.
Nothing in particular happened; there were still fewer Annamites to be seen on the streets and almost all of them had left their former jobs and masters. For the first time, French women were forced to do all their own work themselves, which did nothing to temper their feelings toward the Annamites. This mass desertion, reducing them temporarily to the rank of domestics themselves, was the one sin they could not forgive.
A few British officers and I went for lunch at the house of some wealthy colonials. It was a magnificent repast, complete with wines and champagne, pleasant conversation’ and immaculate service. The cooks and houseboys were Chinese. “Oh, we could not dream of employing Annamites. You can’t trust them. What a relief it will be finally to leave this wretched country. If only they would let us have a good, strong reprisal, everything would be over in a few days. This same sort of thing happened in 1942, but we put a swift end to it. The leaders were sentenced and most of the followers arrested — that was all. It is the only way to deal with people like that. Force is the only thing they understand. Everything else is useless.
“Colonel Cedil isn’t ruthless enough. We hear that General Gracey is worried because he doesn’t have enough troops. If so, why don’t they let us take over? We could muster enough arms and volunteers. We have ways of making them wish they had never started this. In 1942, I was in charge of re-establishing order at X. Well, we burned a few villages, jailed a few hundred natives, sentenced their leaders and that was all there was to that disturbance. Everything went back to order and the coolies went on working as before. They don’t want anything else. They expect that of us…”
An Australian journalist arrived by car from Hanoi with a permit from the Viet-Minh. He reported that: “Everything is all right in Hanoi. The people are well off and the French are safe. This movement is widespread, however, and the Annamites will fight for their freedom. Everything is in the hands of the Viet-Minh and is being well administered. There is no fighting or disorder. There are a few British there and one French correspondent who can’t do much. Ho Chi Minh is a wise and admirable old man. You should go there and see for yourself. There wasn’t a single incident on the road from Hanoi to Saigon. The whole way was clear and with a Viet-Minh permit, it was perfectly easy to get by the few Annamite posts.”
From time to time, an Annamite dwelling would burst into flame. Women and children were fleeing. That night, French soldiers strolled on the Rue Catinat, a gun on one arm, a woman on the other. I have never been so deeply ashamed as on that day of September 23rd. When I returned to the hotel the faces of the English were expressionless and conversations stopped as I went by. I remember the horror and shame I had felt in June of 1940 when Vichy was established, but never in my life had I felt such utter sadness and degradation as on this night.
These men, who were supposed to be the soldiers of France, this undisciplined horde whose laughing and singing I could hear from my window, corrupted by too many years in the tropics, too many women, too much opium and too many months of inactivity in camp, they were the ones to whom the task of re-establishing “order” I had been entrusted. That night I realized only too well what a serious mistake we had made and how grave the consequences would be. It was the beginning of a ruthless war. Instead of regaining our prestige we had lost it forever, and, worse still, we had lost the trust of the few remaining Annamites who believed in us. We had showed them that the new France was even more to be feared than the old one.
The last ten days in Saigon proved to me that the French population understood nothing of the situation and knew nothing of the outside world; that it consisted of people who would not tolerate the least infringement upon their comfort and who also were incredibly cowardly. Never have cause and effect been so closely linked. The events of the 22nd of September determined the issue of the conflict. Everything which happened thereafter can be directly traced to that date — women captured and mistreated, men and children assassinated, Dutch, English and American officers killed, shooting, burning factories, mysterious disappearances, all these and more happened. The French, terrorized by the lack of foresight and motivated by avarice, were unwilling to give up even one piaster. They are responsible for what happened.
The Annamites will win their independence because they are ready to die for it. We must recognize this inevitable fact — in a month, a year at the most, we will have to come to an agreement with them.
It may be too late already. We may never regain face, but if we do, it won’t be with the assistance of machine guns. The “good old days” are gone forever.
Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service has been spying for US intelligence agencies for years. Merkel’s Office should have been informed in 2008 about this practice, but the federal government has not undertaken any corresponding measures, a German magazine wrote.
It became known on Thursday the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) overheard communications of European companies and politicians for the NSA, according to Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten.
However, Merkel’s Office seems to have done nothing to stop these activities, though it was informed about US espionage attempts in 2008.
According to the available information, the NSA was trying to get information about the multinational arms companies EADS and Eurocopter. This was contrary to German interests, and the BND had rejected the requests at that time.
However, now it has become clear that the BND assisted the US National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on European targets over the last few years.
The revelation was perceived by many German politicians as “scandalous”. They demanded an end to such ‘collaboration’ with the US and argued that the chancellor’s office should probably have been aware of the spy agencies’ cooperation.
BETHLEHEM – The US Court of Appeals in New York has rejected an appeal from a group of 13 Palestinians seeking damages for alleged “terrorist attacks” by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Friday.
The complaint was filed against US-based charities that financially support settlements, alleging that such support leads to terrorist activity and is in violation of US anti-terrorism laws, reported Israeli news source Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The USA Patriot Act enacted in October 2001 prohibits citizens from “knowingly providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”
Plaintiffs in the case argued that charities were financially supporting terrorist activity by funding settlers who have carried out acts of violence against Palestinians and their land, and desecrated houses of prayer.
Charities accused in the case included Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, the Hebron Fund, Central Fund of Israel, One Israel Fund and American Friends of Ateret Cohanim.
After District Judge Jesse Furman initially rejected the case last year, the appeal was rejected again this week by a panel of appellate judges.
“American federal judges recognize the difference between the financing of murder and violence… and legitimate bona fide financial support of the daily needs of peaceful Israeli settlements over the Green Line,” Israeli Haaretz quoted attorney Nathan Lewin, who represented the charities in the trials.
Privately funded violence
The dismissal of the case is a setback for those fighting to shed light on private US funding that is currently helping to sustain illegal settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, as well as the violence that results from it.
While the U.S. government has condemned ongoing settlement expansion, its citizens have been able to freely donate millions to the illegal enclaves.
The New York Times identified at least 40 American groups in 2010 that had collected over $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the last decade.
Israeli watchdog Americans for Peace Now have long fought against tax-exempt donations to settlements.
Among other criticisms, the groups point out that IRS regulations exempting charities from tax deduction define a charitable organization as one that “includes relief of the poor and distressed or of the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening of the burdens of government; promotion of social welfare.”
Such a definition does not extend to charities funneling funds to the Jewish-only settlements of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the group argues, and such donations should not be tax-exempt.
The court ruling on the 13 Palestinians’ appeal is only the latest example of a number of cases in which Israeli settlers have gained legal backing from the US government for illegal practices.
Attacks carried out with impunity
Human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have long fought for effective Israeli law enforcement against the type of violent acts committed by Israeli settlers that the 13 Palestinians were drawing attention to.
Such acts are often termed “price-tag attacks,” and are carried out to retaliate perceived pressure from both Israeli and foreign governments against settlements, most often with Palestinian civilians as their victims.
They are nearly always carried out with impunity from the law.
Following price-tag attacks on Vatican-owned offices in occupied East Jerusalem in May 2014, Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the government planned to begin using administrative detention against suspected extremists.
Although Israeli police had made scores of arrests before that time, there had been few successful prosecutions for price-tag attacks and the government was facing mounting pressure to authorize the Shin Bet internal security agency to step in.
The US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism discussed price-tag attacks for the first time in 2013, citing UN figures of some “399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.”
The report said such attacks were “largely unprosecuted.”